Vitamin A and retinoic acid combination attenuates neonatal hyperoxia-induced neurobehavioral impairment in adult mice
Preterm infants exposed to supra-physiological levels of oxygen often have poor executive and memory function associated with reductions in hippocampal volume later in life. We recently showed that adult mice exposed to neonatal hyperoxia have deficits in spatial navigation and increased exploratory behavior associated with hippocampal shrinkage. Retinoids attenuate hyperoxia-induced lung injury in animal models and reduce neonatal chronic lung disease in preterm infants. We hypothesized that retinoid (combination of Vitamin A + Retinoic Acid [VARA]) administration in mice during neonatal hyperoxia would attenuate oxygen-induced cognitive impairment when assessed in adult life. C57BL/6 mouse pups were exposed to hyperoxia (85% oxygen) or air (21% oxygen), in combination with VARA or canola oil (Vehicle) from postnatal day 2 to 14 and then returned to air. Neurobehavioral (Morris water maze, open field and zero maze tests), structural assessments (MRI and histology), and hippocampal protein measurements were performed. Neonatal hyperoxia resulted in spatial navigation deficits and increased exploratory behavior and accompanied by hippocampal shrinkage in adults, all of which were attenuated by VARA administration. During hyperoxia, VARA increased hippocampal phosphorylated and total mammalian target of rapamycin, and synaptophysin levels to a greater extent in hyperoxia compared to normoxia. In conclusion, VARA attenuated neonatal hyperoxia-induced neurobehavioral impairment and associated reductions in hippocampal volume in adult mice, possibly by increasing mTOR signaling and synaptic density. These novel data suggest that retinoids may be neuroprotective in extremely preterm infants at high risk of impairment, and may potentially be effective in other models of oxidant stress as well.